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Assembly Government must explain why burden of cuts falls on education - Kirsty Williams.

October 6, 2009 11:43 AM

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called upon the Assembly government to explain why investment in skills and education has seen cuts deeper than any other area of Assembly expenditure. Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:

"We're in the middle of a recession that is hitting young people particularly hard. We're also struggling to provide the skill base that will drive economic growth in Wales for years to come. To hit colleges and training providers with a 5% cut at this time makes little sense. Our post-16 education providers are already struggling to balance the books, these cuts could be devastating."

" The Webb report on FE highlighted the desperate need for investment in our colleges and highlighted the poor deal Welsh colleges get compared to English counterparts. If we ' re serious about bringing the Welsh economy in line with that of the rest of the UK, we need to maintain investment in the key drivers for growth: skills, infrastructure and business support. This budget is heavy on sticking plaster solutions, light on long term strategy - we risk digging ourselves into a hole. " Notes: * " The Lifelong Learning and Providers budget provides funding for the learning that takes place in 6th Forms, FE Colleges, adult community learning centres, workbased learning locations and Careers Wales. The learning that it funds includes A-level courses, vocational provision, community provision such as Welsh for Adults, apprenticeships and Skillbuild - it therefore develops the skilled workers for the Welsh economy and the qualified sixth-formers entering university. The budget will require an average efficiency gain across the post-16 sector of around 5 per cent. The budget of Careers Wales will be increased by £0.8 million (with a further ESF contribution on top) as part of the measures to counter unemployment. The budget also includes funding to drive the strategic changes in the provider network through the transformation agenda. " p30 Draft Budget Final report * Sir Adrian Webb's report on FE in Wales, which was commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government, noted: " In Wales, there is backlog maintenance for the sector of £92m and it would cost in the region of a further £200m to upgrade the high proportion of accommodation categorised as poor. " The Webb report laments that current funding for FE capital in Wales is " less than 3% of that in England " . Calculated pro rata, Wales should expect 6% of the level of investment in England. fforwm has called for £50 million to be invested in FE estates in 2009/10 and another £50 million per year to gradually build up the FE estate in Wales on a comparable basis to the rest of the UK.